The University of Southampton

Advanced Solid-State Lasers

Following recent advances in diode laser pump technology and optical fibre technology, it is now possible to pump fibre lasers and solid-state lasers with both very high power and very high intensity. This relatively new regime of operation has opened up a wealth of new possibilities including the opportunity to study some new and interesting aspects of laser physics, and to develop some novel, high-power solid-state and fibre sources with important applications potential. 

The Advanced Solid-State Sources group currently has vacancies for new students in the following research areas:

Group webpage

Projects:

Study of techniques for efficient nonlinear frequncy conversion of high power fibre lasers to the visible wavelength band

Supervisor: Professor Andy Clarkson
Co-supervisor: Dr Peter Shardlow

Scaling laser power in the visible band remains as one of the most significant challenges facing laser scientists, motivated by the needs of a growing number of applications in areas such laser processing of materials, medicine, sensing and defence. Traditional methods for accessing this wavelength regime are not compatible with operation at high power levels and so a different approach is needed. This project will investigate a new strategy for generating kilowatt-class laser power in the visible band by combining the power-scaling advantages of cladding-pumped fibre lasers in the near-infrared band with novel nonlinear frequency conversion schemes. The approach offers the prospect of unprecedented wavelength coverage across the entire visible wavelength band at very high power levels and with high overall efficiency.

The project will involve a detailed study into the physics of frequency-converted fibre lasers operated at very high power levels to establish a power scaling strategy and to determine the fundamental limits. The overall ambition of the project will be a new generation of visible lasers boasting levels of performance well beyond the current state-of-the-art for use in industrial laser processing.

A fully funded PhD place on this project is available for UK applicants supported by an EPSRC CASE Studentship. The project will involve close collaboration with one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high power fibre lasers for industrial manufacturing (SPI Lasers based in the UK). The studentship comes with an enhanced stipend (including an additional industrial bursary) of up to £21,000 (tax-free) and with fees paid. A visit to meet us is recommended and phone / Skype interviews are also possible if necessary. Please contact Professor Andy Clarkson or Dr Peter Shardlow for further details. 

Hollow beam lasers and laser processing

Supervisor: Professor Andy Clarkson
Co-supervisors: Dr Peter Shardlow / Dr Jacob Mackenzie  

Laser modes with a doughnut-shaped beam profile can have many unique properties, including axially-symmetric polarisation (azimuthal or radial) or orbital angular momentum. As a result, these beams have found use in a diverse range of applications from ‘laser tweezers’ to laser processing of materials. This project will explore novel approaches for generating hollow laser beams in fibre, bulk and planar laser formats exploiting recent advances in cladding-pumped fibre laser technology and solid-state laser technology.

Our approach will target the two-micron wavelength band and routes to very high average power levels with flexibility in mode of operation.

The project will investigate the underlying physics of hollow-beam generation and the fundamental limits. Particular emphasis will be directed pulsed mode of operation, and the generation of high peak powers and high pulse energies where there is a wealth of exciting applications. The project will then explore the potential benefits that these sources can yield in a range of different laser processing applications using our in-house laser processing facility.

Power scaling of mid-infrared lasers

Supervisor: Professor Andy Clarkson 
Co-supervisor: Dr Peter Shardlow

Two-micron fibre laser technology has the potential to open up a wealth of new applications in areas such as industrial laser processing, medicine, defence and optical communications. Moreover, significant power scaling advantages can be gained by moving from traditional ytterbium-doped fibre lasers operating in the one-micron band to the two-micron band.

The main focus of the project will be to explore scaling output power from two-micron fibre lasers based on thulium in continuous-wave and pulsed operating regimes with flexibility in operating wavelength. Two micron lasers provide an excellent starting point for nonlinear frequency conversion to longer wavelengths in the mid-infrared band. The project will also explore a number of different nonlinear frequency conversion schemes for extending wavelength coverage to this band with particular emphasis on generating wavelengths in the ~3 – 5 μm band, where there an number of important applications.

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